PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS INSIDER
A death, a victory, a miracle: How Tom Weiskopf won on PGA TOUR Champions after his friend’s death
August 22, 2022
By Laury Livsey , PGATOUR.COM
Tom Weiskopf’s emotional victory in tribute to Bert Yancey
Two days after the death of his longtime friend Bert Yancey, Tom Weiskopf won the 1994 Franklin Quest Championship on PGA TOUR Champions, defeating Dave Stockton with a playoff birdie. Weiskopf grew emotional in his winner’s press conference, describing the win as a career highlight, comparable to his first win and Open Championship win.
On a bright, sunny Friday morning, the summer of 1994 fast drawing to a close, Franklin Quest Championship Tournament Manager Jeannie Goddard walked into the media center located in the lower level of the Park Meadows Country Club clubhouse. She had a grim look on her face. Goddard, who died in 2002, saw another staffer standing near the back of the room and stared intently as her co-worker gave her a raised-eyebrow look combined with a head tilt. He was silently attempting to get information without drawing any attention. Goddard understood the non-verbal communication and responded with her own version. She glanced down, looked up with a pained expression and mouthed the words, “He’s gone.”
A couple of hours earlier, in the locker room as first-round play at the 1994 PGA TOUR Champions event began in Park City, Utah, Bert Yancey turned to his long-time friend Tom Weiskopf and said, “Play good, T. I’ll see you at lunch.” Minutes later, Yancey walked outside with the intent of warming up on the range. He didn’t feel great, so he approached the medical personnel sitting by the on-site ambulance and talked with the EMTs for a few minutes. Yancey then walked to Park Meadows’ driving range. With caddie Jon Fister looking on, Yancey hit a handful of practice balls before he stopped, complaining of discomfort in his chest and arm. Suddenly, Yancey collapsed. At 10:25 a.m., that same ambulance he had just visited transported Yancey to the Park City Family Health and Emergency Center, where, at 10:55, medical personnel pronounced the golfer dead. Yancey was 56.
Two days later, Weiskopf won the Franklin Quest Championship in miraculous fashion—a story that never gained much national traction for a variety of reasons. First, there was no network telecast of the tournament played in a small Western ski town. Also, the PGA TOUR was conducting the NEC World Series of Golf in Ohio, with reigning Masters champion José María Olazábal outlasting Scott Hoch by a stroke in Akron. Primarily, though, the 1994 Franklin Quest Championship is somewhat obscured in history because a certain teenager with a cool nickname was earning most of the golf headlines that weekend due to what he did at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Tiger Woods was winning the first of his three consecutive U.S. Amateurs.
For years after that victory, Weiskopf, the winner of the 1973 Open Championship and the 1995 U.S. Senior Open, knew his two major championship titles carried with them more cachet than what turned out to be his first PGA TOUR Champions triumph. Those majors were the wins that put him in the conversation as a possible World Golf Hall of Fame inductee. However, there was always something special about his triumph in Park City.
Weiskopf died Aug. 20 in Montana at age 79 from pancreatic cancer, and he consistently contended that that while his win at the Franklin Quest Championship may not have been his most significant title, it was his most meaningful.
PGATOUR.COM interviewed some of those who watched or were part of what unfolded that weekend in Utah 28 years ago—TOUR and tournament officials, media members, players and Weiskopf himself—to get their perspectives on one of the more remarkable golf tournaments in the sport’s history.
Tom Weiskopf, 16-time PGA TOUR winner and renowned golf course architect, has passed away at age 79.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 21, 2022
Tom Weiskopf, Player: When I was coming back from an instruction-magazine photo shoot down the road at Jeremy Ranch on Thursday, someone told me Bert was really not feeling well at all. He was having some chest pains, having some trouble breathing. I found him and told him, “You know, Bert, a high altitude like this, that could be kind of serious. Why don’t you go see a doctor?” He said, “Nah, nah, nah. It’ll go away.” I didn’t think too much of it. So, all the symptoms were there: chest pain, slurred speech and trouble breathing.
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Champions Media Official: Bert’s situation happened when he was warming up. It was before the first round. He collapsed right by the driving range. It seemed like it occurred before a lot of the media started showing up.
Weiskopf: My friendship with Bert Yancey began in the late ’60s. We were both playing on the TOUR. We played a lot of practice rounds together. Our families traveled together. Bert would babysit our kids, we’d babysit his kids. We traveled for, I don’t know, 12, 15 years. The three of us—me, Bert and Tony (Jacklin)—were almost inseparable.
Tony Jacklin, Player: We were tight and the best of pals. We all looked out for each other’s golf games. Tom and Bert were the best friends I had back then. And, of course, the main thing is we were learning from each other. It was a friendship and a learning curve all in one. We all wanted to be as good as we could possibly be. We worked on our games together, and we played practice rounds together virtually every week. When we went over to The Open, I was the designated liaison, getting all the accommodations and renting houses when we went to Britain. We were really like the Three Musketeers, working and trying to help each other on different aspects of the game.
Weiskopf: None of us quite recognized it, to tell you the truth. Because Bert was the type of guy who never complained about anything. Had he complained about his health, maybe we would have been a little more concerned. Be he just kind of passed it off. If he did complain about something, you knew he was hurting.
Curtis Cook, Franklin Quest Championship Tournament Director: All of a sudden, we hear a little bit of commotion. I was in my office. I heard the siren, and that thing just went out of there. It just took off. It shocked me, so I ran outside. One of the emergency people stayed behind to deal with anything that might happen on the course, so I went and talked to him. He filled me in. I asked him who was in the ambulance. The paramedic said his name was Bert Yancey, and he was a player. He gave me a little bit of the details, and I just thought, “Holy smokes.”
Bryan Naugle, PGA TOUR Champions Rules Official: Everything kind of comes together at Park Meadows, with the first tee, the driving range, 9 green and the 18th green. They’re all very close, and I was hovering around that area in my cart. I got a call (on the radio) that there was an issue at the range. Not knowing what that was, I get up there and an ambulance that was already on site—typical of a tournament that one would already be there—was to the left of the driving range behind No. 1 tee.
Mike Kutcher, Park Meadows Country Club Head Pro: The (pro) shop windows looked out on the range, and everything is pretty close there anyway, with the putting green and the range tee. I wouldn’t say all hell broke loose, but all of a sudden there was a flurry of activity.
Cook: It was shocking. We have 78 players but thousands of spectators, and a lot of them are older. It’s a Friday, so a lot of younger people aren’t off work. I just assumed it was a spectator or a volunteer. I wasn’t expecting to find out it was a player.
Naugle: I didn’t know who it was. I just got a call on the radio that I was needed at the driving range. I kind of had it in my mind that it was a player because of the urgency of the situation and the fact they had called me. They likely wouldn’t have called me immediately had it been a volunteer. The tournament itself would have handled that. But I wasn’t sure, to be honest. I ran over as they were putting Bert on a stretcher.
Jacklin: I think I was on the course, and I got wind of what happened with Bert when one of the caddies told me.
Naugle: Everything was moving really fast, as you can imagine. The paramedics were in the process of putting him on the stretcher, and the ambulance was only a few feet away. Bert grabbed my hand and said, “Did the first alternate get in?” I’ve just never been able to shake that that was what he was thinking about at that time.
Kutcher: When (Yancey) first felt bad, he went to have the medical people check him out. From what I heard, they advised that he not play. He basically said he wanted to go out and hit a few more shots to see how he did. He didn’t want to start the tournament and then take a spot away from the alternate if he couldn’t go. He did not want to play one hole and drop out. The poor guy is having a heart attack, and his biggest concern is getting the first alternate into the field.
Cook: I think the EMTs advised him not to go out, that he should go and get tested. He said, “This is my life. This is my profession. This is what I do. I have to go out.” He went back and hit balls, and that’s when he collapsed.
Naugle: Look, I certainly didn’t think Bert was going to pass right then. But he went very quickly. I think Bert was probably gone by the time they shut the (ambulance) doors and started pulling out. But, again, it’s amazing his last words to me were him worrying about if someone was going to be able to replace him in the field.
Stambaugh: Everybody started asking me if I had any news, and I had a pretty good idea what had happened. The idea was they would Life Flight Bert to Salt Lake City in a helicopter. KUTV, the NBC affiliate, happened to be in Park City doing a live shot for their morning show, and one of the guys from the station who went to the hospital behind the ambulance came to me and said Bert Yancey did not get on that helicopter. That told me right there that he had died if they made no attempt to fly him. But I couldn’t get confirmation from anybody.
Kutcher: What I do remember is because there were enough people around when (he collapsed) and when they took him to the ambulance, it didn’t seem like it took that long to find out he had died or for people to assume he had died. If I recall, someone came into the shop and said he had passed away in the ambulance. He was gone before they took him off the range tee.
Stambaugh: I remember trying to contact somebody at the hospital to try to get confirmation on what was going on. There were rumors, but I wanted to be sure. Of course, I wasn’t next of kin, so I couldn’t get a confirmation. Eventually we found out—confirmation—that he had passed away. I think someone on the tournament staff knew someone at the hospital. I just knew as an out-of-town guy that I wasn’t going to be able to get the information.
Naugle: After he left Park Meadows in the ambulance, Jeannie Goddard alerted me that he had passed. But none of us knew that for a little while.
Toni Guest, Tournament Official Scorekeeper: I was sitting in the scorer’s tent. Someone from the Tour came down and scratched (Yancey), telling us what happened, that he would be a (withdrawal).
Cook: Everyone started calling us wanting to know what was going on. We knew he had passed away on his way to the hospital, but we didn’t say anything because we had to notify his family. We just kept saying, “We don’t know. We don’t know.” But we knew for a while before we announced anything.
Stambaugh: I called Dave Lancer in the communications department at the office in Ponte Vedra to let him know what was happening out there. That gave people at HQ time to start writing the (press) release about his death, if that is what eventually happened, which we know now did.
Kurt Kragthorpe, Salt Lake Tribune Sports Editor: The first thing that came to mind is that nobody would say anything when I arrived at the course. Nobody knew what Yancey’s status was—or they at least weren’t saying.
Stambaugh: The media got word about what was going on, and the phone began ringing. Remember, there was the internet back then, but it wasn’t anything like it is today, and there was, of course, no social media. Cell phones were around, but they weren’t like they are now.
Cook: Immediately we started wondering, what do we do? Do we cancel? Were players going to withdraw? There’s no protocol for this. I immediately found Bryan, and we went in his trailer. We got together and started talking about what to do.
Naugle: The first person I called was Bruno (Brian Henning, PGA TOUR Champions’ Vice President of Competitions) at TOUR headquarters in Florida. It was Commissioner (Tim) Finchem’s call about whether we should continue to play. (News) got to Tim pretty quickly. As far as I know, and based on recollection, there was never a consideration to cancel the tournament. Most of the players were already on the golf course, and it was a lovely day. That was not a consideration at the time.
Cook: A cloud definitely went over everything for the rest of the week. You feel sick. You’re stunned and numb and everything else.Bert Yancey, pictured here in 1993 PGA TOUR Champions action, won seven times on the PGA TOUR. (Gary Newkirk/Allsport)
Naugle: We really didn’t tell anyone while they were playing. We didn’t do anything until players finished their rounds. Obviously, everybody eventually found out, and everybody felt sorrow. I spent a lot of time talking to players in the locker room and telling everybody what happened, in case they didn’t know. And most didn’t.
Guest: Jeannie Goddard came down to scoring and said, “When Tom comes in to sign his card, don’t tell him that (Yancey) passed away.” I said, “OK, I won’t.”
Stambaugh: When I went out to the scoring tent on the 18th hole, I think Tom had already heard about Bert, knowing at the very least that there was some sort of medical emergency. When I got there to meet Tom, I realized he had already heard the devastating news.
Guest: When he came into the scorer’s tent, he said, “Toni, how’s Bert?” And I just put my head down and shook my head. He said, “No, please tell me. Please be honest with me. How is Bert?” And I did it again, putting my head down. I wasn’t going to lie to him and say, “I don’t know,” and I wasn’t going to say, “He’s fine.” He then looked at me and said, “Please tell me. I really need to know.” And, so, I did tell him. He was really emotional. He got up after he signed the card and just went out the back behind the tent. There were people waiting to have him sign autographs, but he went around the back so he wouldn’t have to talk to anybody. He was just so shaken.
Stambaugh: Bert was divorced, so I remember trying to get in touch with Jim Yancey in Ocala (Florida), Bert’s brother. I had a number for him, and I was trying to get word to him about what was going on. I think I left a message for him to call me. It was sort of a helpless feeling to be in the role I was in but not able to do much or give much information until it was finally official.
Guest: I tried my hardest not to tell Tom. But what do you do? I was not going to lie. It was quite a predicament, and he did take it really hard.
Stambaugh: After his round, Tom tried to hold (his emotions) in as long as he could. We sat in the locker room, and I didn’t really say a whole lot at that point. I let him share whatever he wanted to share about his friendship with Bert. Beyond his talent, Tom was always a very thoughtful, philosophical guy, and he always thought a lot about what he would say.
Weiskopf: I called Jeanne (wife at the time) and told her what happened, and she said, “I think it would be best if you kept playing.” I called Jim Yancey, Bert’s brother, trying to get through to him. I’m very close to Jim, too. It was a pretty intense, emotional conversation. He said, “For God’s sake, play the golf tournament, Tom, because Bert would want you to do that. The only thing he has left in his life, other than his children, is golf. That’s what he loved to do, was to play.” Jim told me to go out there and just play. He was very assertive. “Whether you play any good or not doesn’t make any difference.” So that was my intention, to just go out there and play.
Stambaugh: Tournament staff handled a lot of the phone calls from national media that came in, and that helped because I was all alone out there, and I still had to do my job interviewing the leaders. I still had to follow through and do my job on the competition front, who shot what on the first day, while also acknowledging a player had died, the most significant of all.
Jacklin: That afternoon, a small group of us went to a little church close by in Park City. We spent a bit of time in there and talked about Bert. It was a shocking thing. It was tough to accept. We got together and got our heads around it in the little chapel. There were a few caddies who joined us. We remembered the fond memories of Bert.
Guest: For the rest of the day, I still had to make sure the players’ (score)cards were good. That’s their livelihood, and that’s your responsibility. But it was very hard. It was emotionally draining. Not only did Bert pass away, but just seeing this connection with this man who loved him and how hard it was for him made it very emotional.
Stambaugh: We had never seen anything like that. I was physically and emotionally drained at the end of that day. No question. You don’t go to the golf course expecting something like that to happen.Bert Yancey in action at the 1973 Open Championship at Royal Troon. (Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Weiskopf opened the tournament with a 4-under 68, and by the end of the day he shared the first-round lead with defending champion Dave Stockton and Jack Kiefer.
Naugle: I would say for three days I became more of an information source. People were coming over to me in my cart, and they weren’t consoling me as much as we were consoling each other. I just happened to be the one who was closest to Bert and with him when it all transpired.
Dave Stockton, Player: The passing of Yancey put a shadow over the whole weekend, over all of us.
Jacklin: It was reality at the end of the day. People die all the time. You had to get your head around it. It was a shock as much as anything, but I didn’t think about not playing, about withdrawing. I was out there in Utah; I was a long way from home. What are you going to do?
Stambaugh: I thought Tom was going to withdraw. I thought he was going to quit playing. That’s what I thought was most remarkable, that he was able to keep his mind on his golf for the rest of the week.
Guest: The next day when Tom came in to sign his card, he said, “Thank you for being honest with me.” He knew I didn’t want to be the one to tell him.
Kragthorpe: I just remember how he carried himself that weekend. As I thought about it, my only impression of Tom Weiskopf is from Saturday and Sunday of that week. I base my total impression of him and of his life on those two days. It was graciousness and total selflessness because he was so consistent with his theme. Rather than saying he did something for Bert, he made a totally convincing argument that Bert did it through him somehow. That was the difference.
Weiskopf: It was very emotional for not just me but for a lot of players. That’s what made it very difficult because Bert had a lot of friends. Everybody would come to each other and speak, to me, to Tony, to Rives McBee and Orville Moody, also his close friends.
Kragthorpe: I do remember the Weiskopf interviews both days—Saturday and Sunday. I do think it was probably therapeutic for him to talk in remembrance of Bert. I think that was one case where doing interviews was probably healthy for him.
Weiskopf: We were all very upset, not just me. Tony (Jacklin) and I spent Saturday night and Sunday morning together. We just talked about all the things we’d done with Bert. I just tried to stay away from everybody else.
Stambaugh: Each day for the rest of the week, people called and checked in wanting to know what was going on. People kept asking the question, “How is (Weiskopf) doing this? He just lost one of his best friends. How is he holding this together and concentrating at this level?” I didn’t have a good answer. It was amazing.
In Saturday’s second round, Stockton shot a 66 to Weiskopf’s 67. Bob Murphy also shot a 66. Entering the final round, Stockton held a one-stroke lead over Weiskopf and Murphy. Stockton and Weiskopf played in the final group Sunday.
Stockton: Tom and I started on the TOUR together, starting at about the same time. He was obviously a much better player than me with a much better game, a totally different game. And Bert and I served on the (PGA TOUR) Policy Board together for a couple of years.
Weiskopf: Dave was really nice. He was good, and I credit him a lot (during the final round). On the first tee, he said, “I want you to play good today because you’re going to play for Bert. I really think Dave meant that. He knew why I was trying to win.
Stockton: I said what I said to Tom on the first tee because the passing of Bert affected all of us but especially Tom. I wanted him to be relaxed and go out and play well.
Weiskopf: I was just very emotional that last round. I was getting ready to tee off, and I thought, “Jeez, am I going to be able to walk down this fairway?” I was just playing. I wasn’t really thinking about it. It was just a funny sensation. I really don’t know how to describe it. I don’t remember much about it. I don’t remember hardly any shots I hit except the last four putts.
Jacklin: I used to refer to it as a cocoon of concentration, where you put yourself into that space and you don’t allow anything in. It’s a wonderful frame of mind, in the moment, in the now. I never knew how to achieve that state. There was no method to it, is what I’m saying. That’s how Tom was that week, I think. You go through this acute nervousness early on, but once you walk through that wall of nervousness and come through on the other side, it’s like you were in control and you could put the golf ball where you wanted to. You’re not thinking; you’re doing. It’s a hell of a state to be in.
Weiskopf: I can still see Bert. I can still hear him. He’d always say, “T, gosh darn it—he never swore—you’ve got to keep your head still. You’re always moving your head. When are you ever going to listen to me?” And that’s all I could think about coming down the last nine holes. For me to win this tournament, for me to make some putts, which I have to, I have to keep my head still.Tom Weiskopf channeled putting advice from Bert Yancey as he moved into contention at Park Meadows. (Courtesy of Fairways Media)
Sunday, Weiskopf bogeyed the first hole and Stockton birdied, as did Murphy, playing one group ahead. Stockton’s lead was still one, but he led Weiskopf by three. When all three players made the turn to the back nine, Murphy had forged ahead, leading Stockton by a shot, with Weiskopf trailing by two. Murphy bogeyed the 10th hole, and Stockton took the lead from Murphy with a two-stroke swing when he birdied the hole a few minutes later. Stockton widened his advantage after Murphy bogeyed 13, and Weiskopf remained one shot behind until the 14th hole, when he bogeyed to drop two back. Both players parred 15, keeping Weiskopf’s deficit at two. At that point, most observers figured Weiskopf’s miracle run had ended—two strokes down with three holes to play.
Stockton and Weiskopf stepped to Park Meadows’ par-3 16th hole. Weiskopf’s tee shot landed on the green but stopped 80 feet from the cup. Stockton’s ball was considerably closer. Stockton parred the hole. Weiskopf did not.
Weiskopf: I was in three-putt range. I thought it was 80 feet. I don’t know how long it was. I never make those putts. Who ever makes those kinds of putts? It was down over a slope. This was over a split-level green. And (the ball) went right in the center. And I knew before it even went over the hill it was going in. I just had that sensation. It was right on the track. I didn’t say to myself, “I think that thing might have a chance to go in.” I said, “That ball’s going in the hole,” and it just went in perfect. Just perfect; dead center. When I made the putt at 16, that’s when I thought I had a chance.
Naugle: You could stand there with a bucket of balls and not make that putt. I mean, a bucket of balls, and not get within 5 feet. If he doesn’t make it, it’s not going to be a gimme for his par. I can promise you that. After that putt, I thought, “He’s going to do this.”
Stockton: My opinion is: It wasn’t him putting. It was almost like Bert said, “Let me have this thing. I can make this putt.”
Weiskopf made his second consecutive birdie when he two-putted on the par-5 17th, but Stockton held on to his one-shot advantage with a birdie of his own as they moved to the 18th tee.
Cook: We were in the office pretty much getting things ready, discussing who was going to present the trophy and things like that. I was just orchestrating, making sure the trophy was where it needed to be. We all figured we would be handing it to Dave Stockton again, which was great. He was such a great ambassador for the tournament and for Park City, and I was excited about that. Then all of a sudden, Weiskopf made his long putt on 16 and then makes one on 17, and now he’s down one. It’s getting interesting.
Kragthorpe: What strikes me is (Weiskopf) didn’t give himself any credit for doing what he did. He never said, “It was tough to play today” or “I wasn’t sure I could do this.” It was an incredibly courageous performance.
Naugle: I was there at 16, 17 and 18, with that group. I have to say that I would find it hard to believe that a lot of people weren’t pulling for Tom.
Cook: There was just a real excitement and an extra buzz developing.
Kragthorpe: I remember being on 18 green, but I don’t know if I was walking with them (down the fairway). I just don’t remember.
Naugle: My typical thing was after players hit their approach shots on 18, I would get inside the ropes about 100 yards away so I could see everything that was going on. I don’t remember exactly where I was on 18 during regulation, but that is probably where I was because that is typically what I did with the last group. That was my standard operating procedure.Tom Weiskopf was known for his exquisite ball-striking, but it wasn't necessarily what propelled him to victory in Park City. (Courtesy of Fairways Media)
Both players’ second shots on the final hole landed on the green in regulation. Stockton faced an 8-foot birdie putt. Weiskopf had a 20-footer, knowing his was a must-make. If Stockton made birdie there, it was over, but Weiskopf also recognized that Stockton, one of the sport’s all-time masters on the greens, likely would not three-putt from inside 10 feet.
Kutcher: There was a big swale in the middle of the green—before they redid the greens—and the hole location was middle-frontish, in that swale. I saw where Weiskopf’s ball was. From above the hole and to the right, where his ball was, it’s totally unmakeable. There is only a 50 percent chance he’s going to be able to two-putt. From playing the golf course a million times, if the hole’s there and you’re on the back half of the green, you have no chance. You really don’t. The best you can hope for is a 10-footer and try to make the 10-footer coming back. Once it comes over the crest, it breaks to the right then to the left and it’s all downhill and very fast. Of course, he makes it.
Weiskopf: On 18, I had this tough putt, downhill. I thought, “Now this is really important.” It’s a downhill putt. All I had to do is get it started, and I can remember following through and staying right there, seeing the grass where the ball was. And just about the time I looked up, the ball was 3 feet away, and I said, “It’s in.” I was emotional, yeah. It was like a big surge at that time—a tremendous surge.
Stockton: Tom was possessed. He made putts coming in that were unbelievable. It wasn’t his ball-striking that did it for him. It was like Yancey was putting for him. He wasn’t going to be denied.
Weiskopf: I’ve experienced nothing quite like that. I think it was just the emotion of the week coming, building up, building up and there it was.
Stambaugh: I was in the media center as the players were coming down the stretch. When (Weiskopf) made the putt on 18 to get into the playoff, my thought was, “Maybe this is just meant to be. All of this.” Then Stockton missed his birdie putt that could have won it. Playoff. I turned to one of the media guys standing next to me, and I remember saying, “This is just meant to be.” There were just too many things happening.
Cook: It was pretty cool because by then everybody knew the story and his friendship with Bert. There was a lot of excitement and a lot of people pulling for him. But a lot of people loved Dave Stockton, too, so you couldn’t have had a better setup for drama.
Stockton: In my career, I had to make putts because I wasn’t that good of a ball-striker, so I was the one who usually would get people by putting. To have Tom Weiskopf not make one but several putts right at the end when it really counted, it was totally unexpected and you actually couldn’t root against him because you knew why he was playing so hard. You knew why he wasn’t giving up, and it made for a special tournament, no question about it. It was a big deal for Tom, and it should have been.
Weiskopf’s birdie putt on the 54th hole earned him a spot in an unlikely playoff alongside Stockton. It was an overtime session that would begin on Park Meadows’ 18th hole.
Kutcher: Even though Weiskopf made that putt in regulation, it was like, OK, he’s still going up against one of the best players at the time who loved the golf course and is one of the best putters of all-time. So, good luck in the playoff. We even talked about it standing around the green waiting for the playoff. Is this just prolonging the inevitable? I mean, Stockton was playing so well, and he played that golf course so well.
Weiskopf: I can honestly say this: I knew Dave Stockton wasn’t going to beat me once there was a playoff. I didn’t know how long we were going to play; I just knew I was going to beat this guy. They wouldn’t let me come this far and not let me beat Dave.
Naugle: When it comes to the playoff, I do not remember anything having to do with the first tee and drawing numbers to see who hit first. I got caught up in the whole emotion of it, and I really don’t even remember being on 18 tee, and I definitely was. I just couldn’t tell you anything about it.
Weiskopf: When I hit that drive off 18 (in the playoff), I said, “The game is over.” I hit the drive I imagined hitting, and it went 310 yards like it was shot out of a rifle. I hit my second shot right at the pin. I put it right underneath the hole, where I wanted to putt from. I didn’t want to putt from above the hole.
Stockton: It wasn’t Tom I was playing against. I was playing against Tom and Bert, and two on one wasn’t exactly fair.Tom Weiskopf and Dave Stockton share a moment at the 1994 Franklin Quest Championship. (Courtesy of Fairways Media)
Considerably behind Weiskopf with his drive, Stockton hit first and put his ball on the green. Weiskopf matched him but was farther away and would be the first to putt. He calmly made his putt for his fourth consecutive birdie. Stockton couldn’t match him, the tournament ending after one hole. Weiskopf raised his putter skyward. Everybody knew who he was signaling.
Weiskopf: I never even thought I was going to miss it. I could see the line. When I hit it, it was halfway to the hole, and I knew it was in.
Kragthorpe: It might be playing along with his theme that at some point destiny took over. As much as you might be cheering for the story, I think it almost did cross over into thinking that it was destined to happen as much as we might have been hoping it would happen.
Weiskopf: I just think it was destiny. I think I was part of destiny. I think the golfing gods honestly said, “You know, you’re going to win this thing for Bert Yancey. You’re going to make him, his family and his friends feel good.”
Stockton: There was the bomb at 16, and then on 18 there was another one. Comical is not the right word. I swear to God he was possessed. Somebody was helping him around the greens because it wasn’t like he was hitting it stiff.
Jacklin: There was definitely an element of divine intervention. There is no doubt. It was one of those invisible powers taking over.
Stockton: If Bert hadn’t passed away, in my opinion, I wouldn’t have lost the tournament.
Weiskopf: It was destiny that I won the tournament. It was a miracle that I won the tournament. Mentally comparing that tournament to winning the (U.S.) Senior Open. I wasn’t in control of myself and my emotions in Park City. I wasn’t there mentally. I was playing, but I wasn’t really emotionally driven like I was at the Senior Open. I wasn’t intense. I was always thinking of Bert, you know.
Cook: All of a sudden, it’s birdie-birdie-birdie-playoff, and then he’s pointing to the sky. It was like the cloud was lifted. Whether it was a miracle or destiny or whatever, when he pointed up, I was like, OK, this ended the way it was supposed to. Yes, there was a dark cloud, but by Sunday it ended as well as it possibly could have.
Kragthorpe: It was all him going out and being convinced that Bert carried him through it. That’s what was so amazing.
Stockton: I don’t remember any of the start of the round. I just remember the end of it, and Tom didn’t hit it as well as he normally did, but now he’s making putts like he was the best putter in the world. On those two holes, 16 and 18, Tom made over a hundred feet of putts. I promise you he can’t tell you any other time in his career that he did that.
Naugle: Tom had yet to win after turning 50 and based on his talent he really hadn’t played all that well on our Tour. Then Tom proceeds to go out and win the tournament. Even if you didn’t believe in divine intervention in some way, shape or form, I certainly did when Tom won that tournament with the things that happened and the way he won it.
Stockton: It was a fitting tribute to Bert, and I knew Tom felt really good about it.
Kutcher: It wasn’t that Stockton wasn’t trying to win the tournament—because he was—but I always felt like maybe he was relieved that he didn’t win the tournament. It was supposed to be Tom’s. I think that was the whole sentiment.
Stockton: There was absolutely no hurt. No, no, no, no, nothing at all. I had won the tournament before, and I would have loved to have won it again. But Cathy (wife) and I talked about it, how really fitting it was that Tom won. It gave him a lot of peace, and it was a great victory for him.
Stambaugh: It was so memorable when he pointed toward the heavens.
Guest: That’s what I remember, him pointing toward the sky.Those in attendance in 1994 in Park City recall a special energy as Tom Weiskopf won in tribute to Bert Yancey. (Courtesy of Fairways Media)
Stockton: It was like he was in a fog. You get in those trances occasionally—but not enough, obviously—to where you don’t even know what’s going on around you. Tom was that way Sunday. This is supposed to go in. This is for Bert. This putt is going in. I didn’t notice any change in his demeanor. I just knew it wasn’t Weiskopf I was playing against. That’s all. That feeling was there. That’s all you can say about it. He was meant to win that tournament.
Kragthorpe: Weiskopf was so convincing about why he won, and again it goes back to his whole demeanor that weekend, that he was the vessel—that’s the word I’m looking for. It’s with the assistance of hindsight that I have all these thoughts, but I base it on the fact that he was so convinced that was the case that I don’t know how you could not believe the destiny angle.
Naugle: I would be lying to you if I told you I wasn’t pulling for Tom. David was a star on our Tour. David won all the time. He was a great player and a great man. I’m still very close with Dave, but if there was a tournament Dave Stockton had to finish second in, I think Dave was OK with it being that one.
Weiskopf: Dave played great. Dave had a tough putt (in the playoff). He really did. His putt was a lot more difficult than people think it was. I think he missed from about 6 feet for birdie.
Naugle: The crowd went pretty-well crazy when Tom made his putt, and we had a good crowd back in those days. After Dave missed, the crowd was exuberant that Tom had won but also a bit subdued just because of how Tom reacted, pointing skyward.
Cook: It went from the lowest of my six years in that job—the worst feeling as a tournament director—to one where it was awesome. It was the pinnacle of excitement and drama, and it made me feel a lot better, and I think it did for a lot of people. We were still sad and still bummed, but Weiskopf winning made me feel that everything was going to be all right.Tom Weiskopf and Dave Stockton embrace after a memorable, emotional duel in Park City. (Courtesy of Fairways Media)
Stambaugh: Tom broke down again, got choked up, in the interview room, talking about and thinking about Bert. There was a lot of pause and reflection during that interview. I was in no hurry. I was just going to let him do his thing and say as much or as little as he wanted. He gathered himself, talked about winning and went through the round of questions that came from the media.
Kutcher: I will always remember this about Weiskopf. It told me plenty about what kind of man he is. Early in the week, Weiskopf comes in and drops his bag at the bag drop. The kid who was running the cart barn and the bag-storage area, a guy we called New Jersey Dave, comes up to me and says, “Come here. You gotta see this.” He had Weiskopf’s bag. First of all, it looked like it was 25 years old, which it might have been. It was this old, medium-sized bag—a cart bag, basically, not a staff bag—all beat up. No name, not one logo, not a manufacturer’s name. You couldn’t tell who the bag was made for if you looked for five hours. It was filled with clubs he had been playing with forever. I said, “Whose is that?” Dave said, “It’s Weiskopf’s,” and I said, “You have got to be kidding me.” It looked like it came from Sears, Roebuck. It could have. A day or two later, New Jersey Dave asked Weiskopf about the bag, saying something like, “I think you can afford something better.” And Weiskopf said, “That’s not me. I’m not selling out to anybody.” That was his reasoning for the bag and no logos, the clubs and everything else. That was Tom Weiskopf.
Cook: There was a lot going on after the playoff, but I popped into the media room, and that was really cool—the emotion that was coming from Tom. It was strong.
Stockton: In the aftermath I was thinking, “This is truly fitting,” because I know he was thinking about Bert. It wasn’t about Tom necessarily winning it for himself. He was winning it for Bert.
Kragthorpe: Because I was the sports editor at that time, I didn’t have access to a portable (computer) of any kind. I literally drove back to the office (in Salt Lake City) to write the stories every day. I’ve often thought about that since those days. It’s now ratcheted up where everything is so instantaneous. If that had happened last weekend, I would have had to write a story within five minutes of him dying. I think driving down to Salt Lake each day and processing it all did help before I wrote. I think I did get a sense of the moment, actually.
Jacklin: I stuck around the course after my round Sunday because I had talked to Tom earlier in the day about a ride to Phoenix. I can’t remember him playing the last holes or anything like that, but I was obviously there. I think I was just hanging around the clubhouse.
Naugle: Afterward, we went upstairs in the clubhouse and celebrated a little bit. I celebrated along with Tom and other folks. That typically doesn’t happen. At the end of a tournament, we all pack up and go our separate ways. But with everything happening prior to him winning just made it different. A lot of things happened differently that weekend.
Jacklin: After the tournament, I flew to Phoenix with Tom on a private jet. We had a glass of wine on the plane, and we landed. Obviously, Tom winning was more than appropriate under the circumstances, and I was pleased for him having won, at the same time saddened by Bert’s passing.
Naugle: I think emotionally that year’s Franklin Quest Championship has to rank up there at the top of tournaments I’ve worked because I had direct involvement. To be directly involved and see what transpired, that made it special. I don’t want to use the word eerie, but it was, kind of. It was. I’ll never forget it, and I know Tom won’t.
Kragthorpe: In terms of golf, that week and that tournament rank far and away above everything else. It’s almost like it’s in a total class by itself. As much as I’ve been immersed in golf, I’m amazed at how few truly memorable stories I’ve covered in golf. You get less last-second drama, I guess.
Stambaugh: I tell people all the time that in my 26 years out there (working on PGA TOUR Champions), I saw more than my fair share of things, and one of the things that stands out is the day Bert Yancey died and Tom Weiskopf, his best friend, subsequently won the tournament. It was just unreal the way it all unfolded. Bert Yancey’s death is one of those things that stands out in my career that you just don’t forget. It was a tragic, tragic thing.
Naugle: What transpired certainly carried over into the next week in Seattle (GTE Northwest Classic), at least until the competition started. There was a lot of talk about it, a lot of players talking about what happened in Park City. There was more carryover talk about the preceding week than most; way more, actually. Usually when an event is over, it’s over, and that’s the wonderful thing about golf is you start fresh the next week. I won’t call it a hangover because it wasn’t that, but there was a carryover for sure in Seattle.
Stockton: Within a couple of weeks, we talked about that Sunday. I said, “You know, Tom, you putt really well when you have someone helping you.” He looked at me, laughed and said, “Yeah.” I told him I was proud of him because it was a lot of pressure on him and everything. He won it for Bert, and in doing so he won it for himself. It was something I’m sure he treasured.
Stambaugh: Tom’s a very philosophical guy. I still think a week or two after the victory, he must have looked back and asked, “How in the world did this happen?” This was amazing.
Weiskopf: I couldn’t attend Bert’s funeral. I had committed to the Buckeye Pro-Am (in Columbus, Ohio), where I was the chairman of the event. It was the same day as the funeral. I had talked to the Yancey family. Jim told me Bert wouldn’t want me to be at the funeral instead of at the pro-am because it concerned golf and golfers. It was a big deal, a fundraiser for the OSU golf teams and the golf course.
Stambaugh: It was one of those weeks you never forget, where you were and what happened. We were all thrust in the middle of a very difficult situation.
Weiskopf: The rest of that year was tough in the locker room, not seeing that locker with (Yancey’s) name there. Our lockers were right next to each other most of the time because I’m a W and he’s a Y. I returned to play Park Meadows, I think, three more times, and I do know I refused to warm up on that part of the range where Bert collapsed.
Naugle: During his PGA TOUR career, Tom was probably the most-talented player other than Jack (Nicklaus) for how long? A long time. But Tom would be the first one to tell you he got in his own way a lot. Tom found a lot of ways to lose. But he didn’t get in his own way that week in Park City.
A year after Weiskopf’s miraculous victory, as applause rang down, the winner of the 1995 Franklin Quest Championship waved to the fans as he stood on the 18th green not far from a permanent stone memorial Park Meadows erected to honor Bert Yancey. Following all the festivities, media obligations and well-wishes, the new champion, Tony Jacklin, his crystal trophy in hand, passed the monument as he walked to his car.Tom Weiskopf celebrating a putt on No. 18 at the 2015 Champion Golfers' Challenge at St. Andrews. (Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)